“Back to School” Safety Considerations

Fall is in the air and, for many of us, our thoughts are focused on back-to-school preparations. It’s always a flurry of activity as we do shopping trips for school supplies and clothes, visit schools, and meet the teachers, as well as travel to fall sporting events. With all of these activities, September 17 through 23 is designated as Child Passenger Safety Week.

Facts from the Safe Kids Worldwide website:

  • Road injuries are the leading cause of unintentional child deaths in the United States.
  • Of those children, ages 8 or younger who died in vehicle crashes in 2014, 26% were not restrained by an age-appropriate device such as an infant seat, booster seat, or seat belt.
  • Children should ride in a vehicle's back seat until they are at least 13 years old.

To help you prepare for the new school year, the National Safety Council provides a Back to School Safety Checklist:

Walking to School

  • Review your family’s walking safety rules.
  • Walk on the sidewalk, if one is available. When on a street with no sidewalk, walk facing the oncoming traffic.
  • Before you cross the street, stop and look left, right, and then left again to see if cars are coming.
  • Never dart out in front of a parked car.
  • Practice walking to school with your child. Cross the streets at crosswalks when available.

Riding a Bicycle to School

  • Make sure your child always wears his/her helmet when leaving the house.
  • Make sure the helmet is fitted and secured properly.
  • Teach your children the rules of the road.
  • Ride on the right side of the road, with traffic, and in a single file.
  • Come to a complete stop before crossing the street. Walk bike across the street.

Riding the Bus to School

  • Go to the bus stop with your children to teach them the proper way to get on and off the bus.
  • Make sure your children stand 6 feet away (or 3 giant steps) from the curb.
  • If your child and you need to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the side of the road until you are 10 feet ahead of the bus. You always should be able to see the bus driver, and the bus driver always should be able to see you.

Even if you are not transporting children in your vehicle, there is a lot more activity on the roads from bicycles, buses, and pedestrians, so remember to be watchful and slow down. Take a look at this National Safety Council information on sharing the road.

There are a variety of resources available, but here are a few that you may find useful regarding school safety, car seats, and driver/passenger safety tips:

Take a few minutes and discuss this information at your next laboratory meeting and help your staff prepare for a safe school year and transport their loved ones safely.

Feel free to let me know what safety topics you would like to find out about for this safety blog. I would love to hear your questions and ideas.

Pat Hlavka (@pathlavka)

Pat Hlavka

Pat Hlavka is a Safety Coordinator in the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology at Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN. She received a B.S. degree in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and an M.S. degree in Safety from the University of Wisconsin-Stout. She is a Certified Safety Professional (CSP) and a member of the American Society of Safety Engineers. Pat worked as a safety professional in the industrial setting (IBM and Benchmark Electronics) for over 15 years. Since joining the Mayo Clinic in 2008, her responsibilities have focused on laboratory safety including the safety audit program, developing and maintaining documentation, training, communications, awareness, incident investigation, laboratory safety committees, and emergency management.